All workers have the right to work in an environment where the risks to their health & safety are taken into consideration and properly controlled. Owing to the UK’s law, worker’s rights are the responsibility of the employer. Employees have the right to refuse work they deem unsafe.

Workers also have a duty of care against their own health and safety, as well as the same principles concerning those around them who may be affected by their actions upon performing a certain task. Everyone must work together to meet their legal requirements. 

Worker’s Rights to be Considered
  • Work should be halted and sites left where danger is a concern.
  • Workers should be consulted on issues pertaining to health and safety at work.
  • Worker’s must be able to raise concerns about health and safety in the workplace.
  • Workers should be able to contact to the HSE or respective local authority, if there has been an issue or concern with health and safety – without being admonished for doing so.
  • Workers can join a trade union and be a safety representative.
  • Workers are entitled to a break of a minimum of 20 minutes when working more than 6 hours. On top of this, an annual period of paid leave.
  • First-aid facilities should be sufficient.
Refusing Unsafe Work

Work may be refused if you believe that serious harm is to come to those that continue.

Although, this does not mean that a procedure shouldn’t be followed. Following the correct process of refusal can prevent a serious incident from occurring.

Procedure for Refusal of Work:

  1. If the work is deemed dangerous and refused, the worker must then immediately report the situation to their supervisor.
  2. The supervisor/employer must then lead an enquiry into the concern that was raised by the worker. The concern must be remedied or reported as invalid after the investigation.
  3. Assuming that the worker still believes the work to be dangerous, they then reserve the right to contact the appropriate authorities. It will then be in the authorities’ hands as to whether the task is deemed safe or not. If it is deemed unsafe then the issue must be fixed before the worker can resume their job.

Note: A worker may be assigned to temporary/alternative paid work whilst the concern is being remediated.

Read the HSE’s information: Employment Protection

Employer’s Responsibilities

Employers must:

  • Provide details upon how a job can be done safely and state the risks to an employees’ health and safety from current or potential working practices.
  • Ensure that risks are being controlled, whilst also telling employees how these controls are implemented and who is responsible for such controls.
  • Know how first-aid treatment should be sorted out and what should be done during an emergency.

Free of charge, an employer must provide:

  • Training which enables a worker to do their job safely.
  • The equipment and protection that is necessary for a task – such as hard hats. This equipment must also be maintained.
  • Health checks must be given when it is clear that a danger of health is present due to the nature of work.

Read more on Worker’s Rights at: HSE


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